NGOs want the government to rethink minimum pricing

NGOs and council leaders this week laid the blame for an “epidemic of liver disease” on cheap booze deals in supermarkets and called on the government to put minimum pricing back on the agenda.

Dr Steve Hood, a specialist in liver disorders at Aintree University Hospital, told a conference of council leaders in Liverpool that supermarket promotions were a major cause of a crisis that was putting “big pressure” on hospitals and social services.

At a separate conference in London held by alcohol Concern, Professor Ian Gilmore, chair of the Alcohol Health Alliance, described a recorded four-fold rise in deaths from liver disease as “meteoric” and urged the government to re-think its decision to shelve minimum pricing.

The calls come as retailers and drinks suppliers continue to debate how to respond to calls from the Home Office for more action to tackle alcohol problems.

New Liberal Democrat health minister Norman Baker this week met leaders from industry groups to discuss the issue but sources downplayed reports it might see a toughening of the government’s stance.